Lauder tree is chopped down despite group’s claim

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PROTESTERS halted a bid to cut down a tree as part of Lauder’s new health centre development on Monday – but only for a short time, writes Sally Gillespie.

Members of Protect Our Greenfield Site (POGS) who have opposed the new centre going on the town’s Crofts Road play park stopped the tree surgeons at work, saying the council did not have permission to take the large beech down.

The group’s Heather Hardie said: “The council hasn’t taken ownership of the land yet, it’s still Lauder’s (Common Good) land and they didn’t have permission.”

One of the campaigners rang Scottish Borders Council and was told it would rush through an emergency planning order to get the job done, said Mrs Hardie.

But on Tuesday, an SBC spokesman said there had been confusion. There were no concerns about land ownership and no planning permission was needed to chop the tree down because it did not relate directly to the new health centre, he explained.

Instead, the council had been clearing the site for the new play park, part of the new health centre package which gained planning permission earlier this month.

“To facilitate the construction of the play park and pavilion in parallel, access is required from Crofts Road via the existing play park. Therefore, one tree adjacent to the existing play park, that would have been removed by NHS Borders for the new health centre, was removed yesterday to allow access for large delivery vehicles,” he said.

By Tuesday, the rest of the tree had been chopped down.

At the council’s planning committee meeting earlier this month, council leader David Parker had confirmed that a capital receipt of £250,000 from the sale of the Crofts Road land would be transferred to Lauder’s Common Good on July 1.